Workplace Wellness

Ultimate Guide on Corporate Wellness Programs & 5 Tips to Get Started

Written by Kelsey

Designing a corporate wellness program is no small feat. There are countless possibilities for routes to take, structures to build, areas to focus on and aspects to implement.

Going into designing a wellness program, you may have a general idea of the type of program you’d like to create. But it’s important to know all the bases that need to be covered and questions that need to be answered in order to design an effective program for both employees and the company.

What is corporate well-being?

By now, even if we don’t know the exact definition, we’re all familiar with the term “wellness”. It’s a term that we hear talked about in the news, on social media, in our personal lives and at work more and more each day. But what is corporate wellness or well-being specifically?

Essentially, corporate well-being is any program designed to encourage healthier lifestyle choices for your workplace. 

Why is corporate wellness important?

When employers implement wellness programs it’s for one of two reasons. Either they know the ROI that can come from implementing a wellness program want to be proactive about managing preventable issues, or they’ve already run into one of the following issues and are hoping to find a solution:

  • Lowering health-care costs
  • Increasing and maintaining productivity, camaraderie and presenteeism
  • Recruiting and retaining high-quality talent with attractive benefits that set you apart from other companies or opportunities they may be considering

Types of wellness programs:

How effective are corporate wellness programs?

Wellness programs help to solve many issues and offer many additional benefits for corporations. Wellness programs have been proven to solve and manage some of the most prominent issues that companies commonly struggle with, such as; retention, employee performance and productivity,  There are a few key factors that go into ensuring the effectiveness of your corporate wellness program:

How well do you know your employees?

Knowing what your employees want and need is most commonly achieved by conducting employee surveys before and during the program. Learning about what your employees are interested in and the type of activities they are willing and able to participate in will play an important role in designing an engaging and successful program that your employees will want to participate in.

How well are you able to engage your employees?

High engagement is often achieved by…

  • Having effective methods of marketing and communication about, and throughout, the program. Speaking of which, check HR administrators can take a cue from marketing teams, and learn to spread the word about their wellness programs through ‘customer marketing
  • Having effective methods in place to motivate and incentivize employees to participate in your program

You may also want to consider using loss aversion to make your wellness program more engaging, and effective.

How functional is your program?

As with any program, execution is key. You can have the world’s greatest wellness program with the perfect structure and employees who are eager to participate, but if the execution and management of the program is insufficient, it’s likely to fail.

This is why it’s important to have a detailed execution plan with clear responsibilities designated to specific members of the team. An organization running their own wellness program in-house will need to decide who will be a part of running the program.

At most companies, this would be the HR department, but many companies also designate a wellness committee to carry out things like; communicating program details and updates to employees, tracking employee activities and disbursements, or collecting and processing documents (like biometric screenings, annual physicals, etc.). 

Managing a program in-house can require a lot of labor and time that could be spent on other things that can’t be outsourced or automated. This is why many corporations opt for paying for an outside solution to facilitate the program. For example…IncentFit!

IncentFit’s highly intuitive and flexible platform automates every aspect of managing a wellness program:

  • Activity tracking & verification
  • Disbursing funds and rewards to employees
  • Populating automated, aggregate reports for admins
  • Personalized in-app messaging and push notifications to notify employees about important updates and requirements
  • Auto-generated, personalized recommendations for health content & activities based on biometric screening results submitted by employees

Interested in learning more?

How much do companies spend on corporate wellness?

In 2020, the corporate wellness industry was valued at $52.8 billion dollars. With a steady growth rate of 7% since 2018, the corporate wellness industry value is forecasted to reach $93.4 billion by 2028.

Source: Corporate Wellness Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report by Grand View Research

The average wellness program costs between $3.50 and $7 per employee to run. In 2021, 81% of large companies offered wellness programs or benefits, allocating an estimated average of % of their annual budget to employee wellness.

Some companies have more basic programs (i.e. conducting HRAs and annual biometric screenings) that are lower in cost. More intricate programs that include things like monetary incentives, paid gym memberships and EAPs can cost employers upwards of $300 per employee, which sounds like a lot, but not when the employer is seeing an ROI. It’s best practice to have a combination of basic features, and more intricate features in your wellness program, because wellness programs can’t just be gym discounts and memberships.

We’ve also published a short guide on why corporate wellness programs work for every company that implements one.

Do wellness programs save employers money?

Generally, employers implement wellness programs not only to save money, by lowering healthcare costs; but to make a profit, by increasing productivity, improving recruitment and retention of high-quality talent, and improving camaraderie.

At the very least, a wellness program should definitely save an employer money, but the goal is for the program to produce an ROI. On average employers see a 3:1 ROI on a well-designed, effective wellness program.

Why do corporate wellness programs fail?

Most corporate wellness programs fail when the aspects that make them a success (listed above) are improperly implemented or managed. A few of the biggest mistakes companies make that can interfere with their program’s success are…

1. Surveys collected insufficient information; data wasn’t analyzed properly; or surveys were not administered at all

Without having a clear understanding of what your employees want and need in terms of their personal well-being, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to design a program that will resonate enough for them to engage. It’s important to make the surveys as simple as possible for the employee to fill out and 

2. Marketing and communication for the program is poorly executed

For employees to participate in your wellness program, they first need to know it’s happening. Secondly, they need to have a clear understanding of the structure, activities and requirements of participation. Lastly, they need to feel it’s worth their time and effort. This is achieved through effective marketing and communication to your employees about the program. Which brings us to the next biggest reason that a wellness program may have failed…

3. Employer didn’t know how to effectively motivate or incentivize employees to participate in the program

You want to find ways to get your employees informed and excited. Sending out a company wide chat or email blast to announce your program is a great place to start. Make sure to put together a packet or presentation to share with employees that includes all the details about your program, so they can have a clear understanding of what it entails and how it will benefit them. 

Remember to make your marketing materials and language/conversation around the program fun! Use attention grabbing design for marketing materials and consider starting a chat space or communal leader board to keep people motivated and interested.

How do you pitch a corporate wellness program?

Before pitching any proposed idea, especially one as prominent, intricate and expensive as a wellness program, you want to come prepared with a well thought out idea or plan and the facts to back up not only why it will work, but why it’s worth spending money on.

If you’re considering proposing a wellness program to decision makers at your company, here are a few things you’ll want to include in your proposal:

Prove why it’s needed

First, you’ll want to prove why this program is needed and how it will help the company save or make money. You’ll want to research statistics and examples of successful programs at other companies; then provide a high-level overview. 

For example: Maybe it’s apparent that the company struggles with recruiting high-quality candidates or has difficulty keeping their best employees around. You’d want to find statistics and facts about how corporate wellness programs are proven as an effective way to tackle this issue directly.

If you feel they’re on the fence about it, you can suggest conducting an anonymous survey to ask employees how they feel about needing a wellness program.

Research to back up your point

If your employer is open to the idea and asks for more information, it’s good to be prepared with some rough estimate of costs, labor required, who will be responsible for different aspects of running the program. You could also compile a list of a few solutions or services that the company could outsource to facilitate the program that may be cheaper and more effective than doing it in-house.

Depending on how decisions like these are typically made at your company and your seniority or role, steps after this could look very different. Your employer may ask for your input on a plan to design, implement and facilitate the program; or they may want to designate that to a different department or more senior team.

For this reason, it’s likely unnecessary to have a specific plan prepared. That being said, if you have ideas that you know you’d like to contribute, it’s not a bad idea to jot them down and let your employer know you had some ideas if they’d be open to hearing them.

How do you promote corporate wellness?

There are many ways to promote and incorporate wellness into your company culture. The first thing to know is that there are 7 dimensions of wellness; physical, intellectual, emotional, social, financial, spiritual, occupational and environmental. Depending on the people in your organization, where your workplace is located and many other factors that make your culture what it is; it’s up to you to choose which dimensions you’d like to focus on or incorporate at all. Another thing to consider is how to factor in your workplace culture into creating a wellness program.

It’s common and widely accepted to promote physical wellness in the workplace. Most organizations focus mainly or solely on physical wellness because it’s the most prominent dimension of wellness that we can easily see affecting employees’ performance. 

Companies often promote physical wellness by offering discounts or paid memberships to local fitness facilities, giving reimbursements for fitness equipment or nutrition, and bringing in coaches to educate employees about physical health (i.e. nutrition, exercise, managing preventable health conditions, making exercise fun, etc.).

Dimensions that are less often, but still commonly promoted in the workplace are:

Intellectual wellness

How it can be promoted in the workplace:

  • Professional development programs and stipends
  • Encouraging and empowering employees to take on new and challenging projects

Emotional wellness

How it can be promoted in the workplace:

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
  • Employee resource groups (ERG)
  • Mental health resource library for employees

Environmental wellness

How it can be promoted in the workplace:

  • Incorporating strategic design that promotes the production of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine in the workplace
    • Examples: plants, abundant natural light, strategic colors, happy photos or messages, etc.

Less commonly promoted dimensions are:

Occupational Wellness

How it can be promoted in the workplace:

  • Career counseling 
  • Encouraging employees to set goals with a manager or accountability buddy
  • Encouraging, supporting and celebrating employees to pursue their passions and hobbies outside of the workplace
  • Allowing employees to propose ways to incorporate their passions into their role

Social Wellness

How it can be promoted in the workplace:

  • Supporting a healthy work-life balance by encouraging or even rewarding employees to use their paid vacation and personal time off
  • Offering opportunities for employees to connect, socialize and converse about casual topics outside of the workplace
  • Example: team lunches or happy hours, quarterly or yearly team events or celebrations

Financial Wellness

How it can be promoted in the workplace:

  • Financial literacy courses and coaching
  • Offering financial benefits (retirement savings plans, HSAs, commuter benefits, etc.)

Spiritual Wellness

How it can be promoted in the workplace:

  • Being respectful and accommodating to all employees’ religious beliefs and practices
  • Let employees choose which holidays they’d like to have off and make the options as inclusive as possible

Hosting or attending a wellness fair for employees, compiling a library of resources for all dimensions and offering complimentary access to coaches and counselors are all great ways to promote corporate wellness that is diverse, inclusive and considerate of everyone’s unique needs, interests and abilities.

You may also be interested in learning about effective methods of promoting your new employee wellness programs.

What to consider when choosing a corporate wellness solution?

There are countless services, platforms, and products that offer solutions for facilitating an effective wellness program for corporations. It can be hard to know where to even begin your search or know how to sort through the sea of options. The two most important things you need to have a very clear understanding of to find an effective corporate wellness solution are:

1. What type of program does your company need

In addition to considering what the company can afford, make sure you know for certain what type of wellness program your employees want. What are their personal health goals? What areas do they want to focus on? What activities will they not only be willing, but excited to participate in? What will motivate them to participate?

2. The exact problem(s) you are trying to solve

Why did you seek and come to the conclusion that your company needs a wellness program in the first place? If you know that productivity struggles because of absenteeism, poor camaraderie and various health issues, look for solutions that specifically target those issues and see the types of products and services they offer. 

This will help you get a better sense of all the different types of solutions and narrow down which one is the best fit for your people. Once you know that, you can start searching for specific products or services rather than a solution for the problem you are trying to solve.

5 Tips to Get Started with a Corporate Wellness Program

1. Determine the problems this wellness program will solve or prevent and how

Decide if you’re trying to improve recruitment, retention, employee experience, camaraderie and collaboration, absenteeism or lower healthcare costs.

2. Decide on a budget

Think about how much the company can possibly spend on a wellness program; how much are they willing to spend; and how much will you need to spend to put a system in place that is guaranteed to work.

3. Research

Find as many examples of wellness programs as you can to know all your options and be confident that you’re making the best decisions about what your program should look like and include. Here are 6 employee wellness program ideas to get you started! You should also consider this important question before you launch your wellness program.

4. Survey your employees

Surveying employees is a good practice in general, especially when the success of your program largely depends on their level of engagement. Here are some common things that employees want in their wellness program, so feel free to use it as a starting point as well.

5. With the set budget in mind, use the survey results to choose the structure, activities and incentives for your program

Something that you should also consider in this process, is how you can do employee recognition through your wellness program. Here are some helpful tips to make the most of your corporate wellness program!


For more ideas on how to get creative with designing your wellness program, you can always browse our products and resource library.

Corporate Wellness Benefit Managers having a discussion while looking at an electronic tablet.

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